The Bruins are last in total defense and rushing defense in the conference so this week's contest provides a big opportunity for the Arizona State rushing attack to get re-established. Despite UCLA's bad rush defense, the Bruins have arguably the Pac-10's best defensive player and Butkus semi-finalist, LB Spencer Havner. He's the team and conference leader with 76 tackles. Havner is an all out playmaker and one of the best linebackers you'll see in all of college football. Joining Havner at LB is Wesley Walker, who comes in with 32 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss.
Besides Havner, the Bruins don't have much else to get excited over. The most alarming defensive statistic in my eyes is how many tackles their safeties are accumulating. That tells you that the front seven aren't doing their job, sans Havner. This isn't a 4-2-5 defense where the tackles are funneled to the safeties either. The injuries and low retention on the DL have been tough for UCLA to overcome. The only bright spot on the line has been the play of true freshman, Brigham Harwell, with 13 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
FS Ben Emmanuel II is active in the secondary with 46 tackles on the year. Jarrad Page, Chris Horton, and Eric McNeal all get playing time at safety and have been contributors to the Pac-10's third best pass defense. Upperclassmen corners Matt Clark and Marcus Cassell are playing well.
On offense for the Bruins, the star is RB Maurice Drew. He is an all-purpose guy much like Reggie Bush is for Southern Cal. Drew has 733 yards and 9 TDs. Seven of those TDs came by way of rushing and the other 2 receiving. Drew utilizes his 5'8" frame by hiding behind his blockers and hitting the hole hard and fast. However, the Bruin rushing attack does not stop at Maurice Drew. RB Manuel White has contributed 3 TDs, 452 yards and is averaging 75 yards per game on the ground.
Bruin QB Drew Olson leads a surging passing attack for the Bruins. Defenses have been keying in on the ground game and have forced Olson to go to the air to beat them. His best target is TE Mercedes Lewis who has 5 of UCLA's TDs. He's averaging 39 receiving yards to complement his blocking duties. UCLA's best WR, Craig Bragg, may see some action this week ad would provide a big boost to the passing game. Bragg has only played in 3 games this year but has more yards then the second option at WR and Valley product, Junior Taylor. Bragg brings a 72 yard per game average while Taylor, in twice as many games, is only averaging 21 yards per game.
Justin Medlock leads a great kicking game for the Bruins. He's perfect on the year in FGs, going 7 of 7. Medlock hasn't attempted a FG in the last two games. Punter Chris Kluwe averages 41 yards per punt. He can kick the ball long and has placed 10 of his punts inside the 20 yard line.
Just like Reggie Bush, Maurice Drew is also a special teams force. He's utilized on both kick and punt return teams. WR Craig Bragg and S Jarrad Page also share duties on punt returns. Page has been a success with 49 yards on 2 returns. Chris Markey has 159 yards and a long of 35 yards in the kick return game as well.
Sun Devil Source Top Stories
ASU preparedness/potential grades: DevilArizona State's led by the returning leader in sacks from 2016 at its key pass rush position, Koron Crump, and also has a valuable and versatile backup in place, A.J. Latu.
Sun Devil SourceYesterday at 4:24 PM
Player capsule: A.J. LatuFifth-year senior A.J. Latu is a valuable role player who has seen action at multiple positions and on special teams during his Arizona State career.
Sun Devil SourceYesterday at 8:56 AM
Local QB Gunner Cruz offered by Sun DevilsAn impressive offseason has led to the first major college scholarship opportunity for one of the state's top young quarterbacks.
Sun Devil SourceTuesday at 9:48 PM
Addison slowing recruitment downWith a family connection to Tempe, one of the West's top athletes is keeping Arizona State as an option after two visits to the school this year.
Sun Devil SourceTuesday at 8:13 AM